Entomologist Larry Dapsis, Deer Tick Project Coordinator, of Cape Cod Cooperative Extension presents information about numerous types of ticks and the diseases they carry in the following Tickology video series.
Tick Identification & Ecology
- Female American Dog Tick is easy to spot as she has a creamy white wide spot up by the head.
- Female Lone Star tick has a bright white spot in the center of her back.
- Female Deer Tick has a bright red abdomen.
- A lot of this info is shared again in part 3 below where I have more notes.
Tick Borne Diseases
- He considers the American Dog Tick more of a nuisance than a threat. I disagree. Just ask anyone who’s ever had RMSF or Tularemia, both of which can kill you.
- The Deer Tick (Black legged tick) is endemic in 80 countries and has been here for thousands of years.
- Lyme is found in 49 out of 50 states in the U.S. (absent only in Hawaii)
- In 2016 the CDC adjusted Lyme prevalence to 300,000 new cases of Lyme a year.
- Martha’s Vineyard has more cases than anywhere in the universe.
- Risk of infection is year round.
- Largest risk is from the nymph as they are smaller and the bite is difficult to detect. He is finding about 25% to be infected with Lyme. 50% of adults are infected.
- In Massachusetts, children ages 5-9 have the highest rates of infection. Adults aged 50-70 has a surge of infection as well.
- Babesiosis, similar to Malaria, can be passed via blood transfusion with 50% of Massachusetts cases found in the south eastern part of the state and virtually found in some degree in every county in the state.
- Anaplasmosis (HGA) can look similar to Lyme and is more broadly distributed in Mass.
- All these diseases are steadily increasing. 95% of cases are aged 65 and older.
- Borrelia miyamotoi, related to Lyme, is a relapsing fever. 3% of Cape Cod ticks have it but is expected to increase.
- Powassan can put you in the hospital with brain swelling. They did surveillance and found Powassan in 4 out of 6 site sites with infection rates as high as 10% in the tick population. In reading the literature, he feels it has been on Cape Cod for thousands of years but it hasn’t been on medical radar.
Lone Star Tick – The New Tick in Town
Part 3 of the Tickology video project.
- The Lone Star Tick, normally considered a Southern tick, is in Cape Cod, and has moved North, and yes, is in Wisconsin.
- The adult female has a white dot on her back
- These ticks can run and are aggressive, fast & will actually chase you.
- While he mentions a warming climate, independent Canadian tick researcher, John Scott, states emphatically temperature has nothing to do with tick expansion: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/08/13/study-shows-lyme-not-propelled-by-climate-change/
- He claims Lone Star ticks have been established in Sandy Neck Beach Park and Shining Sea Bike Trail for a long time – it’s just nobody was looking for them. I suspect this to be true for many other areas as well.
- He claims these areas are “perfect flyways” for migratory birds for transporting ticks.
- Lone Star ticks prefer intermediate size hosts. He put out video surveillance and picked up wild turkeys in areas where these ticks were established. Rabbits & coyotes are good hosts as well
- The adult female lays a cluster of 4,000-5,000 eggs, which leaves a high concentration of larvae in late summer. He claims when you find one, it could be a matter of minutes and you could have 200-300 bites.
- He claims Lone Star tick larvae do not transmit pathogens.
- The adults; however, can transmit Erlichiosis, STARI, Tularemia and Alpha Gal or meat allergy (all animal products).
- He claims you will not find deer ticks in an open lawn. I was told otherwise by Susan Paskewitz, chair of the Department of Entomology at UW–Madison, whose crew is finding them in fields where kids are playing sports, and it’s here as well: https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/05/07/ticks-lyme-disease-cdc-putnam-county/
- He is finding Lone Star ticks in open spaces. They don’t mind the heat. Deer ticks will seek out leaf litter and/or snow when conditions are harsh.
Permethrin Treated Clothing & Footwear
- Natural Pyrethrum is from the Aster Family, & is an extract from a type of chrysanthemum. It has quick knockdown against insects but no residual control. Breaks down in sunlight quickly.
- They manipulated it so now it has 4 weeks of residual control.
- You only use it on clothing and footwear. He feels treating footwear to be crucial. If a tick is on a treated surface with permethrin for 60 seconds it will die. He feels strongly that using this product will reduce your exposure tick bites by upwards of 90%. It is active thru 6 washings or 45 days which ever comes first.
- Pre-treated tick repellent clothing is also available. EPA testing has shown it is active through 70 washings. You can also send your clothing to “Insect Shield,” and they will treat your clothing and send it back with the 70 washing claim. He says it’s about $10 per clothing item.
- It’s not the molecule that makes the poison, it’s the dosage. As far as permethrin goes, there is low mammal toxicity except for cats. It is 2,250 times more toxic to ticks than to humans. According to the EPA, permethrin-treated clothing poses no harm to infants, children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
- Permethrin has low skin absorption and is metabolized quickly.
- National Research Council looked at long term exposure on the military wearing permethrin saturated clothing from head to foot for 18 hours a day for 10 years and found no reason for an adverse effect.
- The active ingredient is the same ingredient used for treating scabies and head lice and parents smear it on their kids from head to toe.
- He demonstrates how to apply it onto clothing and footwear. Scroll to 10:00. Make sure to wash these treated cloths away from other clothes. Remember sunlight breaks it down so it lasts through 6 washings for 45 days, which ever comes first.
- He sprays the inside of the legs in case a tick gets underneath. I tuck my pants into my white sprayed socks so ticks can not get inside.
- The big distinction between repellents is the EPA registration. Deet, Picaridan, IR 3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus have EPA registration with data on file for any claim being made.
- Go here for the EPA selection guide: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you (Fill in the questionnaire)
- Go to www.npic.orst.edu for pesticide information.
- Go to capecodextension.org for short factual answers on products.
- Naturals are not EPA registered so there is no data proving effectiveness. Not all repel ticks. Buyer beware.
For more on tick prevention: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/05/11/tick-prevention-and-removal-2017/
https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/05/27/study-conforms-permethrin-causes-ticks-to-drop-off-clothing/ “All tested tick species and life stages experienced the ‘hot-foot’ effect after coming into contact with permethrin-treated clothing,” Eisen said.
https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/04/03/fire-good-news-for-tick-reduction/ Study found a 78-98% reduction in ticks.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0112174 These data indicate that regular prescribed burning is an effective tool for reducing tick populations and ultimately may reduce risk of tick-borne disease.